Arnold Preview: Can't-miss events at the Classic

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Fifty sports and events featuring 18,000 athletes - who hail from 60 different nations - reserved their slots at 12 venues across the city. Eight hundred and fifty booths - up from the usual 700 - featuring the best health and wellness gurus and products have vied for space in the Greater Columbus Convention Center and got it. This weekend, more than 200,000 visitors will pack these streets in what has become "the largest health and fitness expo in the world," said Jim Lorimer, Arnold Sports Festival co-founder.

That's right. It's the Arnold, folks. And with all the muscle, machines and juicy, tanned mayhem, it's easy to skip over some of the good stuff. No worries. Alive's going to pump you up with some of the best itinerary fillers the Classic has to offer.

Pole-Fitness 101 Workshops: Think it's just aesthetics? Put those muscles to the test at one of the free intro-to-pole-fitness workshops held Friday and Saturday at the Expo. Sign up on the spot or pre-register at Studio Rouge, 1411 W. Third Ave., Grandview.

New Sports: Swimming and tennis make the list of new sporting events to check out. If tennis isn't your bag, try visiting the not-so-new table tennis events. It may be mini-tennis, but rest assured it has just as much ball-flying excitement (Tom Hanks not included).

Art at the Arnold: The competitions don't end at sports. In this fifth-annual event by the same name, 50 artists will vie for the first-place slot using athlete models and other figures as their subject. Catch their selected works from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday in the Hyatt-Regency/Convention Center connector.

Irish Dancing: Get a little more nuance in your event choice with Irish Dancing. This hit is sure to gentile up all that hard-hitting testosterone that's been bussing around your ears all weekend. Irish Dancing runs from 10-10:45 a.m. Sunday on the Convention Center's Concourse Stage, and 11-11:45 a.m. on the Arnold Fitness Expo Stage.

Celeb Sightings: In addition to chatting up popular fitness buffs promoting products and catching glimpses of your favorite athletes competing, hit the Meet & Greet. Here, you can schmooze and get a picture taken (or a lock of freshly gelled hair) with the IFBB Pro League Stars. Schmoozing goes down from 7-8 p.m. Thursday (VIP, free) or 8-9 p.m. (General Public, $25) in the Vets Memorial North Hall.

Head to Hollywood: Grab one of seven free Hollywood Casino-bound shuttles at Vets or your Downtown hotel to drink, gamble and mingle with the pros in bodybuilding, strongman and other sports. Add in the Schwarzenegger appearance, and we think $25 is a no-brainer. 21+.

Last Chance at Schmoozing: If you missed 'em at the casino, and you couldn't catch the Meet & Greet, don't sweat. The winners of the weekend's Classic and Strongman Classic, past winners of the Classic and Schwarzenegger himself will be chatting about health and fitness and taking your questions. The event is held 11-2 p.m. Sunday at the Hilton Columbus Downtown. Tickets are $50.

Dispatch file photos